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Australia, like many countries, is looking at overhauling and strengthening its various anti-corruption laws. A number of new laws have been proposed recently that would change the way Australia handles corruption and bribery cases. If adopted these new proposed laws could be a big step toward making action on corruption in Australia much easier and more effective.

FCPA Blog has a great article about the proposed new laws, and we very much suggest you read the full article there, but here we provide a summary of a few of the bigger changes these laws would bring about:

  • A new offence would be introduced called “Failure to prevent bribery of foreign officials.” This would broaden the possible actions (or inactions) that could lead to a convition. As with a similar law in the UK, companies would be able to defend themselves if they could show that they had instituted “adequate procedures” to prevent bribery.

  • The above mentioned law would apply not only to an Australian company’s employees but also to their “associates” whether the offences take place in Australia or abroad.
  • Some proposed changes would also allow “deferred prosecution agreements” similar to US and UK models. The aim here to make it easier to resolve corruption cases without as much cost to the public, while still acting in the public interest.
  • Another proposed piece of legislation would create greater protection for whistle-blowers.

However, Australia has lagged behind other countries in enforcement of it’s existing laws, so the effectiveness of any future laws would also depend on Australia improving its enforcement of bribery and corruption laws. But there is hope on this front too. Australia’s record of prosecuting such crimes has improved in the past few years.

Smith Brandon International is always interested in improvements to anti-corruption efforts. We work hard to keep abreast of changes to laws throughout the world. If you’re looking to business with an Australian company, or are looking at investments in Australia let Smith Brandon International help you navigate the changing legal landscape and keep you out of trouble. We can help you put in place an anti-corruption program or provide you with due diligence reports on your potential partners to be sure you don’t get dragged into corrupt activities.

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